By Sam Youngman - 09/01/09 03:06 PM EDT
President Barack Obama "strongly recommended" that Americans receive the "swine flu" vaccine even as he stressed that his administration is prepared to deal with another outbreak of the H1N1 virus.
The president, in remarks in the Rose Garden of the White House on Tuesday, said his administration is working hard to develop and make available the vaccine as flu season approaches. He noted that the vaccinations will be "completely voluntary."
"I don't want anybody to be alarmed, but I do want everybody to be prepared," Obama said.
The president said he is anticipating "some issues" with the virus in the next couple of months, and "the way it's moving is still somewhat unpredictable."
The president was joined by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Education Secretary Arnie Duncan, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, White House homeland security adviser John Brennan and director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention Tom Frieden.
Meanwhile, three agencies are teaming up with Sesame Street to prepare school children for the new threat of the H1N1 virus.
The White House announced Tuesday morning that the Homeland Security, Education, and Health and Human Services departments are enlisting the help of Elmo and Gordon from the long-running educational show to teach children how to avoid H1N1, also know as the swine flu.
Obama is scheduled to meet with the secretaries of those three agencies and other administration officials later Tuesday afternoon to discuss the threat.
Elmo, Gordon, the Sesame Workshop and the federal agencies will try to teach children, through public service announcements, steps they can take to prevent contracting or spreading the potentially deadly flu strain.
“Younger children and their parents are some of the people most at risk from the new H1N1 flu virus and with schools starting back up again and the weather starting to get colder, we need to do everything we can to get these important messages about how to prevent the spread of the flu out there,” said Sebelius.
The public service announcements will tell schoolchildren to keep their distance from sick people, stay home from school when sick, cover their mouths and noses when coughing or sneezing, wash their hands often and avoid touching their eyes, noses and mouths.
-- This article was updated at 3:13 p.m.